Skip to main content

Henry Hitchcock Letters

 Collection
Identifier: mss-677

Scope and Contents

The collection mainly consists of original handwritten letters from Hitchcock to Pomeroy detailing travels, finances, politics, and the monument to Ethan Allen. A few pieces of correspondence from Hitchcock's son Ethan Allen and one from his cousin Ethan A. Allen Jr. are present. Miscellaneous papers relate to both Hitchcock and Pomeroy. Pomeroy's (biographical) writings about Hitchcock are present in the form of original handwritten drafts alongside later secondary research articles.

Dates

  • 1816-1834

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Hitchcock (1792-1839) was the grandson of Ethan Allen (1738-1789); his mother Lucy Caroline Allen (1768-1842) was the third child of Allen and his first wife Mary Brownson. His father was Judge Samuel Hitchcock (1755-1813) who was the first State's Attorney for Chittenden County (Vermont), the first Attorney General of Vermont, and an original trustee of the University of Vermont. Henry Hitchcock attended Middlebury College and graduated from the University of Vermont in 1811. In 1815, he was admitted to the Vermont Bar. He started for Mobile, Alabama in October 1816, arriving in January 1817. He first worked as a lawyer.

In 1818, President Monroe appointed Hitchcock Secretary of the Alabama Territory, similar to the modern day role of Secretary of State of Alabama. Hitchcock was one of a committee of fifteen men who wrote the state constitution in 1819. As a result, Hitchcock became the first author of a book published in Alabama: The Alabama Justice of the Peace, a legal guide. He was elected Alabama's first Attorney General by the General Assembly, a role he held until 1823. Hitchcock welcomed General Lafayette to then-capital Cahaba/Cahawba during his tour of the United States in 1824-1825. The general paid Hitchcock a personal visit due to his friendship with Ethan Allen.

Through an appointment by President John Quincy Adams, Hitchcock served as US District Attorney for southern Alabama, a role he held from about 1826 to 1830. Privately, he continued to work as a lawyer but also worked as a commercial real estate developer, aiding in the growth of the port town of Mobile. Two notable Hitchcock buildings were the Barton Academy, the first free public school in Alabama, and the Government Street Presbyterian Church. Through these efforts, Hitchcock was known as the wealthiest man in Alabama at the time with a fortune of over two million dollars.

In 1835, he was elected, again by the General Assembly, as an associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The next year, he became chief justice. He resigned this position the year after that in order to focus on his active business interests during the Panic of 1837, which caused many financial hardships.

Hitchcock married Ann Erwin (1803-1854) in 1821 and they had eight children, though five died young. Three survived to adulthood: Caroline, Henry Hitchcock Jr., and Ethan Allen. Henry Hitchcock Jr. (1829-1902) was on the personal staff of General Sherman and was present during the "march to the sea" during the Civil War. He went on to work as a lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri and helped to found the American Bar Association and the George Washington University School of Law. Ethan Allen Hitchcock (1835-1909) worked as a merchant in St. Louis, was an Ambassador to Russia (1897), and Secretary of the Interior (1899-1907).

Henry Hitchcock died on August 11, 1839 of yellow fever during one of the worst such epidemics in Mobile history.

John Norton Pomeroy (1792-1881) was the son of Dr. John Pomeroy (1764-1844), the prominent Burlington doctor and the first faculty member of the University of Vermont Medical College. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1809 and was a close friend of Henry Hitchcock (1792-1839). Pomeroy was admitted to the Chittenden County Bar in 1816 and worked as a lawyer, frequently in debt collection. His inheritance from his father precipitated his retirement. He was engaged in political efforts, being elected as a member of the Vermont Constitutional Conventions of 1836 and 1849 as well as other state and local offices. He was a friend of George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882) with whom he worked to erect a monument to Ethan Allen in Burlington.

Pomeroy was an original member of the Burlington Unitarian Church (1816). He married Lucia Loomis (1800-1877d. 1878) in 1819. At the time of his death, he was the oldest native-born resident of Burlington and oldest UVM alum.

Extent

0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The collection contains letters from Henry Hitchcock to his friend John Norton Pomeroy in Burlington, Vermont. Hitchcock was a Vermonter who immigrated to Alabama and built a successful law and business career; he became Alabama's first Secretary of State, first Attorney General, and Chief Justice. Pomeroy was a lawyer and politician who worked with George Perkins Marsh to erect a monument to Ethan Allen in Burlington.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact uvmsc@uvm.edu for access.

Related Materials

John Norton Pomeroy Papers, also held by the University of Vermont Special Collections, may be of interest. These papers document Dr. John Norton Pomeroy and his son, John Norton Pomeroy, the latter being Hitchcock's correspondent. These papers also document Pomeroy's efforts toward the Ethan Allen Monument.

Bibliography

  • Rann, W. S. History of Chittenden County Vermont. Syracuse, New York, 1886.
  • Lewis, Herbert J. "Henry Hitchcock" in Encyclopedia of Alabama. 2018.

Creator

Source

Title
Guide to the Henry Hitchcock Letters
Status
Completed
Date
2018 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)